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Protect water quality: Request public hearing on wetland development



Your voice is needed to request a public hearing on a new development proposed near the Sanibel Causeway.

A Lee County zoning change in 2005 awarded 50 development units to the “Sanibel Passage” project located along McGregor Blvd adjacent to the Causeway. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is currently reviewing a permit to dredge and fill 1.25 acres of wetlands and mangroves on the property. This would have a direct impact on water quality and wildlife habitat.

The permit allows interested parties to request a public hearing on the proposed impacts of the development. It will be our only opportunity to comment on the impacts of the development to our community. The property owner has vested rights to develop the property, but they are not entitled to destroy additional wetlands to accommodate their development.

Email U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Project Manager Michelle Bartley at Michelle.L.Bartley@usace.army.mil by end of day Nov. 6 to request a Public Hearing on Project #SAJ-2004-01691. You may find the following talking points useful when emailing her:

– I request a public hearing on the project to allow stakeholders the opportunity to discuss the impacts of the development. It will be the last opportunity for public comment on the development and I am concerned about the additional wetland impacts being requested.

– Mangroves and wetland areas play an integral role in protecting water quality, preventing erosion and dissipating the effects of storm surge. The development would have direct impacts on mangrove wetlands that were not reviewed when local government approvals were issued in 2005.

– Removal of wetlands on the property will further impact coastal flooding within the Coastal High Hazard Area, increasing risks to adjacent properties from storm surge.

– The new development will impact traffic patterns and have the potential to slow hurricane evacuation from Sanibel and Captiva islands.

– Additional impacts to these wetlands will degrade water quality and increase nutrient loading in the surrounding watershed.

– Increased nutrient loading can feed harmful algal blooms in our waters, including blue-green algae and red tide.

– Poor water quality impacts our local tourism economy and threatens our quality of life.

Thank you for your action and for your continued efforts to protect our coastal wetlands.

Founded in 1967, the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation is dedicated to the conservation of coastal habitats and aquatic resources on Sanibel and Captiva and in the surrounding watershed. For more information, visit www.sccf.org.